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Featured Blu-ray Review: Grosse Point Blank

August 4th, 2012

Grosse Point Blank - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Grosse Point Blank was a minor hit when it came out in theaters in 1997. It only managed fourth place during its opening weekend, but it did manage to nearly double its production budget at the box office, so the studio likely broke even sometime during its home market run. This week it is making its Blu-ray debut, but is the movie still worth checking out 15 years later? And is the Blu-ray worth picking up?

The Movie

The film begins with Martin Q. Blank talking over the phone with his assistant, Marcella, it's a typical conversation involving ordering bullets in bulk and arranging bank transfers. It's typical for someone in his line of work. He's an assassin. However, this particular job he's been hired to take out another assassin in order to protect a client. Unfortunately for his client, there were two hitmen working that job and Martin was only informed about one. The other hitman is Grocer, whom Martin has worked with in the past, but they've had... professional disagreements in the past. Grocer wants to start an assassins guild, because there are so many ex-Soviet block hitmen out there that the price has plummeted. Martin has no interest in working with Grocer ever again.

Meanwhile, Marcella is trying to get Martin to do something he's even less interested in doing, go to his high school reunion. He even fires her when she brings it up again, although it doesn't take. His next assignment also doesn't go quite as planned. This time he was hired to kill someone, which he does, but make it look like a heart attack in his sleep. This part he fails at. Because of this failure, the firm that hired him wants him to kill another target, and he must do it before they can testify on Monday. The target is in Detroit and Marcella claims that this is fate. He can go to his high school reunion and do the job at the same time. Martin decides to go, but first visits his therapist, Dr. Oatman. It's not a really good session, as Dr. Oatman doesn't want to be his therapist, because he's scared of Martin. He does suggest going to his high school reunion would be good for him. It would give him a chance to reconnect with friends, including a woman, Debi Newberry, that he has been obsessed with for the past ten years. He just shouldn't kill anyone while he's there.

That not killing anyone might be hard. After Martin was forced to take the make-up job, the firm canceled their contract with Grocer. As a result, Grocer informs two National Security Agency agents, Lardner and McCullers (K. Todd Freeman), that Martin will be in Detroit. There is also another hitman in town, Felix La Poubelle (Benny Urquidez). Martin is unsure why he's there, but he sure it involves him. Having to deal with people trying to kill him could be a nice change from the rest of his reunion. He learns his childhood home was sold and now there's a convenience store at the location. His mother is living in a home and has dementia. She can't remember who Martin is or that her husband is dead. If this trip was supposed to help his depression, it's not working.

Things look a bit up when Martin talks to Debi, although she takes the time to publicly confront him. (She's a D.J. on the local radio station and gets callers to phone in and say whether or not she should take him back.) He then runs into his old best friend from high school, Paul Spericki, who became a real estate broker, who actually brokered the deal that sold his childhood home. So will meeting old friends and rekindling his relationship with his ex-girlfriend be just what he needs to get over his depression? Or will it be impossible to run away from his job?

That's as much of the setup as we need and at this point we start to run into spoilers. I was tempted to try to write this review without watching the Blu-ray. I've seen Grosse Point Blank so many times that I could probably do it. The film has more than a few of my favorite actors in it (John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Alan Arkin, Jeremy Piven, Minnie Drive, and others). It also has style of humor I love. It is very witty with a lot of very funny dialogue and clever jokes. I especially like the varied ways people jokingly responded when Martin Blank said he was a professional killer. However, it's not just witty one-liners, as the screenwriters created some well-rounded characters and Martin Blank stands out in this regard. Some people will complain that the film's tone is all over the place, and I won't disagree with them. It does go from lighthearted comedy to really dark drama rather quickly. However, I would argue that this is one of the film's strengths. In lesser hands this could have been quite jarring, but thanks to the strong writing and the solid cast, it works.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no extras on the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray is a huge step up from the previous DVD release, but it is far from a top notch Blu-ray. There is quite a lot of grain and the colors are not as strong and the blacks not as deep. Then again, the film is not a visual fest to begin with, so this is more than adequate. The audio is better with excellent clarity. The surround sound speakers provide enough ambient sounds, while the subwoofer adds weight to the gun fight scenes. Finally, the Blu-ray only costs $13, which is a reasonable price.

The Verdict

Grosse Point Blank is an excellent movie and still fun to watch all these years later. I don't think the Blu-ray lived up to the Anniversary Edition label, but at $13, it is still worth picking up.

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